Let’s remove obstacles to needed economic investments

bonds_smallThe legislature’s appropriations committee today is listening to the public’s opinion on two bills that, if passed, would direct the governor to carry out the will of Maine voters.

The proposed bills are: An Act to Amend the Laws Governing the Issuance of Bonds That Have Been Ratified by the Citizens of the State (L.D. 138) and An Act to Clarify When Bonds May Be Issued (L.D. 904).  Legislators, both Republicans and Democrats, proposed these measures in response to Governor LePage’s refusal to issue bonds that the voters had approved at the ballot box in 2010.

His refusal was not because we don’t need the projects ―there is pent up demand for road repairs to improve driver safety, sewer treatment for clean water, and land protections to keep commercial fisherman from losing access to piers and wharves to land their catch. Building repairs at the University of Maine were already underway and left half done. Hard-to-come-by downtown improvement projects like the renovation of the Norway Opera House were jeopardized. Redevelopment of the mothballed naval air station in Brunswick slowed. And jobs were lost. MECEP calculated that the bond spending would have created 1,400 desperately needed jobs.

The new legislation would mandate that the governor and Maine state treasurer issue bonds approved by voters and establish sensible limitations, for example in cases where funded projects are not moving forward or alternative funding is available and bond funds are no longer required, or if by delaying a short time the state could get a better interest rate.

Under Maine law today, one person can deny the will of voters and stand in the way of sound public investments that create jobs and opportunities for Maine workers.

That’s not right.